The Tangible Kingdom

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The Tangible Kingdom

HUGH HALTER

MATT SMAY

The tangible

KingdoM

THE REMIX


Intangible

Love Security Happiness Purpose Comfort

Mercy Health Justice Value Peace Compassion

Vision Hope Community Light Safety Joy Truth

Tangible


You

are


hope and despair.

If you’re like us, you’ve gone down with a ship or two trying to make

the Kingdom story tangible. Maybe you’ve abandoned the boat and

are treading water, hoping a rescue vessel will appear. Or, you’re

already sitting up on the rocks, sopping wet, staring off into theological

oblivion, wondering how much of the the ancient story can really be

true for today. Maybe you’ve captained one of these ships and, without

knowing it, found yourself sailing toward irrelevance. You have people

on board, but they seem to have lost their heart.


ur story is simple: as a bunch of friends living

n Denver who were committed to live out

ncient ways in a modern context of community,

ommunion, and mission, we suddenly found

urselves in the company of followers, most of

hom did not come from a meaningful church

ackground or any church background at all.

Our purpose is simple: we want to talk to you about the

church. We want to let you know that the unsettling feelings

you are experiencing are ones that hundreds of thousands of

people are also working through. We also want to give you

hope and a real-life picture of a preferred future.

Compared to 3 million people in Denver, the number of people in Adullam

is silly to mention. We meet in homes, pubs, and rented facilities. Our goal

isn’t to attract Christian people to our worship service but to be the faithful

church in small pockets throughout our city. We are creating places of

inclusive belonging where God’s alternative Kingdom can be experienced.

Creating

Incarnational

Community

THE POSTURE AND PRACTICES OF ANCIENT CHURCH NOW


THE CALL OF THE CHURCH

To Find and Help

Others Find God’s

Beautiful City


Things we dont have...

1. all the answers

Things we dont care about...

1. megachurch

2. housechurch

3. whatever church

Missional &

Incarnational

Things we do care about...

1. the intangible dream

of God and his church

becoming tangible

These two words together describe an orientation toward the ancient faith communities described

in the Book of Acts and throughout history, who lived a countercultural, communal experience that

always influenced the cultures they found themselves in.

These missional/incarnational communities were therefore the natural framework God’s church

was and must still be built upon if we are to continue their rich legacy of making apprentices of

Jesus worldwide. Although small and unsanctioned, these early communities were powerful and

authoritative. Although they were on the run and decentralized, they were organized and strategic.

Although they didn’t know much about starting or growing churches, they did both naturally. Church

just happened, and it was deeply meaningful.


the

fiona moment

Each evening after the church planting training sessions, we headed out

to grab dinner and ended up frequenting an Irish pub in Queens. Over

several nights we got to know a few of the waitresses and some of their

stories about growing up in Ireland.

One young waitress, Fiona, shared about her religious upbringing in

Northern Ireland. As you can imagine, she seemed to have some faith in

God, but she wasn't too fond of Protestants, Catholics, or the church.

The Yankees were in the playoffs, and the place was packed. I walked in

and headed toward the bar looking for a seat. As I made my way deeper

into the crowd, I heard Fiona calling two bartenders over to meet me.

"This is the guy I was telling you about," she said. "You've got to hear

how he talks about God."

Suffice it to say, you don't get that type of enthusiasm from most church

members. At that introduction, the room split to make room for me.


Over the course of the next few hours,

I got to share a bit of my story and listen

to theirs. As the bar thinned out, the

bartenders invited me to help them clean

up. Eventually, everyone was gone except

Fiona, a few other waitresses, bartenders,

and the owner. We all sat around one table

as they asked one question after another.

Their questions were so sincere, their

anger so justified. Yes, they were jaded,

too, but their intrigue with me seemed

honest and open. I knew I couldn't talk

about church. I knew I couldn't share the

four spiritual laws or tell them I was a

pastor. I just talked about the only thing

I knew they might like: Jesus and the

alternative world he called the "Kingdom

of God."

“i just talked about

the only thing i

knew they might

like: jesus”

It was just before 6:00 a.m. as I opened the

heavy pub door to head back to my hotel.

The sun was just starting to creep out

above the buildings.

As soon as the door slammed behind me,

I met God again.


I began to cry. Harder than I’ve ever cried. Heaving tears, shaking

uncontrollably. I had to sit down on the dirty curb and put my hands over

my head so no one would see me. I’m sure I looked like a drunk puking in

the street. I suddenly knew what God was doing.

I knew he was saying I could trust him again with my son’s health, that I

could trust him with our finances again, that he’d just been in that pub with

me, and therefore, there was no better place for me to be.

The call was clear.

“the call was to get back in the game.”

The Twin Towers had just gone down; the world seemed fragile at best.

Golf, fishing, the comfort of my custom home, perfectly popped popcorn,

and shifting the burden of people onto someone else seemed like luxuries

I would gladly give up for this feeling of being fully alive and fully engaged.

The call was to get back in the game. To enter the tension again!

The voice was about his church again.


Today was Sunday, and the day began with our Adullam gathering at a

local community center...

About 10:00 a.m., more friends started to show up. Some brought

other friends, some brought food to share, and some just came in. Our

collective community is a strange mix of rednecks, professional athletes,

Bronco cheerleaders, seminary students, young suburban couples, a

herd of kids and babies, many single urbanites, and a handful of empty

nesters who keep us in check For the first 25 minutes, nobody sat down.

Everyone just enjoyed waking up together with coffee, conversation, and

the sound of our kids running all over.

A (Sun)day in the life...

Then we shared some scripture, song, and communion, and one of

our young interns told us about a mission to Zimbabwe and another to

Nicaragua that we’ve all been drawn into.


I left with a sense that everyone was glad they had been

together. I went home to watch the last round of the British

Open. As I settled into what I thought would be a five-hour

‘‘nap-golf extravaganza,’’ the doorbell rang.

It was Biker lenny, asking if his

friends (a local gang of pirates)

could see our puppies.

ow, I don’t want you to miss this picture. Bobby and his

riends, half of whom were women, have enough ink in their

ollective tattoos to overflow the printer cartridges for two

undred HP Office Jets. They all look like a cross between ZZ

op and Howard Stern, and that includes the ladies!

s we sat outside in our garage, some played with the

uppies and the other ones looked over my Harley. Toward

he end of our time, I got the invitation that I’d been asking

od about for the past six months. They asked me to ride

ith them! Finally.

Thanks to the magic of TiVo and the leading of the

Holy Spirit, I was able to leave the British Open and

head off with Captain Jack Sparrow and his band

of bikers to the thunderous sound of six Hogs...

they in their black leather and bandanas, and me

in my church shorts and flip flops.


After the ride, thinking that my day was over, I headed to my local think spot, only

to be interrupted by a phone call from a couple who used to live next door to us.

One of their daughters wanted to be baptized outside, and they couldn’t find a

church that would do this. Her mother had remembered us from a couple years

back and found my number. I told her I’d be honored to baptize her daughter and

invited them to our lakeside baptism gathering to be held a few weeks later.

This day sums up our hope

for you. This day was just

life as usual, and yet it

was filled to the brim with

beautiful expressions of

God’s Tangible Kingdom.

Very little was planned, and

the best parts came as

divine interruptions to my

normally self-focused life.

W

b

i


hat we’re learning is that God’s church can

e natural, and it will emerge anywhere an

ncarnational community exists.

People will always be drawn to people who

look, smell, and behave like Jesus, and if

you’re committed to caring for people who

move toward Christ through you, church

will become a labor of love for you, as

well. Fresh faces, new stories, and a web

of relationships will witness to the tangible

world Jesus called his Kingdom.


The time has come,” he said. “The

kingdom of God is near.”

Mark 1:15

find out more at:

TangibleKingdom.com

©2008 Missio/CRM Empowering Leaders

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